Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.), a gun rights proponent who represents the Nashville district that includes the school where six people were shot dead on Monday, has offered “thoughts and prayers” to the victims’ families.
“My family and I are devastated by the tragedy that took place at The Covenant School in Nashville this morning,” Ogles’ statement said. “We are sending our thoughts and prayers to the families of those lost. As a father of three, I am utterly heartbroken by this senseless act of violence. I am closely monitoring the situation and working with local officials.”
The freshman congressman attracted swift backlash from Democrats, gun control advocates and other social media users, who highlighted a gun-glorifying Christmas photo he posted on Facebook in 2021. In the image, Ogles and his family, including children, pose with large firearms.
The tragedy of the latest mass shooting is listening to Tennessee politicians who refuse to call it a shooting but who engaged in behavior that caused this to be more likely when they glorify guns. Tennessee Rep @AndyOgles, is this you with your family? pic.twitter.com/LJGnUKqJdA
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) March 27, 2023
Those who spoke out included: Fred Guttenberg, who became a prominent gun control advocate after his daughter Jaime was killed in the 2018 Parkland school shooting; Shannon Watts, founder of gun violence prevention group Moms Demand Action; Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas); and Rep. Greg Landsman (D-Ohio).
“How much more bloodshed will it take?” Escobar tweeted. “It’s. The. Guns.”
Landsman said he had spoken with Ogles just last week about their kids.
“If someone like Andy would say, ‘hey, we don’t need these kinds of weapons,’ we could make some real change,” Landsman wrote. “I’ll ask him this week.”
Ogles’ office did not immediately return a request for comment.
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) March 27, 2023
How much more bloodshed will it take?
It’s. The. Guns. https://t.co/7XxskatLnR
— Veronica Escobar (@vgescobar) March 27, 2023
Andy and I talked just last week about our kids. It was a nice conversation.
I had no idea that he feels so strongly about assault weapons.
If someone like Andy would say, ‘hey, we don’t need these kinds of weapons,’ we could make some real change.
I’ll ask him this week. https://t.co/JdJiF8Gx5V
— Greg Landsman (@GregLandsman) March 27, 2023
Ogles represents Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District, which includes The Covenant School. A 28-year-old killed three students ― all aged between 8 and 9 ― and three adults at the private Christian school on Monday, police said. The shooter, who authorities said was wielding a rifle, an assault rifle-style pistol and a handgun, died after being shot by police.
On Ogles’ campaign website, he said he would “fight tirelessly” to protect Second Amendment rights. It states: “Disarming the people is the most effective way to enslave them, and we must remain vigilant when anyone seeks to erode our civil liberties.”
Formerly the mayor of Maury County, Tennessee, Ogles touts on his House bio that he was recognized as “Tennessee’s most conservative mayor.”
In February, Ogles was exposed for embellishing many elements of his résumé, including the degree he studied and his work fighting international sex trafficking.
He wasn’t the only gun-toting lawmaker to send prayers Monday. Rep. Lauren Boebert, who shared a very similar family Christmas photo in 2021, was also reamed for her futile message about the violence.